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Tech Talk Radio Show 06 of 2009
Transmission date: February 9, 2009

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Ep 6: Victoria Burns, the worst fires in Australian history - How is the technology coping - Twitter, the hero of the fires, Google Lattitude and HTC Dream.

February 9, 2009

Worst fires in Australian History

On Saturday February 7 Victoria recorded it’s hottest day on record with temperatures in the Melbourne CBD climbing to 46.2 degrees Celsius or 115 on the old scale.

Not since the Ash Wednesday fires on February 16 1983 has South Eastern Australia seen anything like it. Then more than 180 fires fanned by winds of up to 110 km per hour caused widespread destruction across the state and taking the lives of 47 people. The largest fires generated their own weather systems and thunderstorms, showing up on the bureau of meteorology’s weather radar as huge smoke drifts.

VICTORIAN Premier John Brumby has described the ferocious bushfires that killed many people, injured many more and ravaged much of the state today as "the worst day in our history".

In addition to the human toll, technology around the state also took a hammering. Demand on the CFA website as well as the Department of Sustainability and Environment website virtually ground the information sites to a halt. Users on the DSE site were asked, due to unprecedented demand on the website that people who do not need to access this information for reasons of personal safety, please refrain from doing so.

774 ABC Melbourne set up several web sites to deal with the fires in an effort to remove some of the load from the government sites.

Even the Vicroads web server was not immune. With nearly all the major roads closed in the central and eastern parts of the state, requests for road closure information led the site to crash with an upgrade message being displayed to many users.

Telephony in the area has been hit hard as well with the destruction of many mobile base stations as well as telephone exchanges. The Taggerty Telephone Exchange was one such exchange destroyed by fire resulting in landline phones not working to the south of Taggerty. The mobile phone network also experienced high demand with callers failing to initiate a calls and excessive call drops.

Telstra today announced a relief package for its residential and small business customers in Victoria who have been forced from their homes or whose phone services have been affected by the bush fires.
Under the package Telstra is offering its affected customers free call diversion from their fixed line to another fixed or mobile service of their choice and mobile calls charged at fixed line rates, in accordance with their selected HomeLine® or BusinessLine® plan, for local and STD® calls made on their mobile service, in situations where Telstra mobile customers have been evacuated from their homes or who have lost their service due to the fires.

This week on TTR
Australians have no problems with pirated software?
The US again delays the Switch to Digital TV to June 12
Google launch Latitude, yet another social mapping program
And we take a fresh look at a new friend, Twitter